Emerging trends at Dreweatts' Jewellery, Silver & Objects of Vertu sale

Several interesting trends seem to emerge from Dreweatts very successful sale of Fine Jewellery, Watches, Silver & Objects of Vertu on 8th June.

Although the underlying bullion price for silver is very bullish at the moment, the pieces that come up at auction are not for scrap but for collectors, who are crying out for rare and unusual items - and Dreweatts had several lots which fitted that bill. The Scottish spoons for example (lots 7-22), was a single good quality, academic collection and all the spoons sold well above estimate; they had been lovingly collected over a long period and had been bought from local silversmiths no longer in existence from places like Tain, Wick, Arbroath and Montrose, to name but a few.

The emerging markets known as BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) are going from strength to strength, especially when it comes to buying back their own artefacts. There had been a dozen telephone bidders of Indian origin ringing from all over the world, chasing the pedestal rose bowl or small punch bowl (lot 102) made by Oomersee Mawjee, the Indian equivalent of the 20th century British silversmith Omar Ramsden. This striking Indian silver bowl proved that the market for fine Indian silver and craftsmanship is thriving and it eventually sold for £14,640 (estimated £2,500-3,500).

The following lot (lot 103) was an oval Chinese silver tray made in Shanghai by Hung Chong, engraved with bamboo, peony and prunus and this was snapped up by a Chinese bidder for just over £5,000 (estimated £700-1,000). Yet another piece to go a BRICS bidder, was the small (5.25ins x 4.5ins), very attractive late 19th century Russian icon (lot 98) of Christ Pantocrator in polychrome cloisonné enamel oklad with the maker’s mark; it went to a Russian buyer for £4,880 almost five times the lower estimate.

Watches, whether pocket watches or wrist watches are always best sellers at Dreweatts, which has become the auction house for watches outside London and this particular sale offered a good comprehensive selection.

The jewellery section had some especially beautiful items with interesting stories such as the mid Victorian diamond and emerald pendant dated 1851. This heart shaped locket (lot 273), inscribed on the reverse: ‘Given to Mary Marchioness of Salisbury by Arthur Duke of Wellington 1851’, was a gift to Mary Stanley, Countess of Derby, who later became a grande dame of society and politician manqué, but who is best remembered for her friendship with the Duke of Wellington to whom she had been introduced as a little girl by her father George Sackville West.

The Duke became a pivotal figure in her life and they remained in constant contact, writing to each other right up to Wellington’s death in 1852. In one of his letters he reminds her of his triumphal entry into Cambridge... ‘I perfectly recollect your standing on my knee in the open carriage and your delight with the cheers of the mob and the horses of the yeomanry galloping about the carriage...’ She regarded him as her ‘Guide, Philosopher and Friend’ making him godfather to each of her children and even naming her daughter Mary Arthur, after him! After his death she used to say: ‘It is to the Duke that I owe the best of all the good I have learnt, and in especial forgiveness of injuries.’ Mary Stanley married twice, becoming the Marchioness of Salisbury and later the Countess of Derby. There was considerable British interest in this piece and it sold for a resounding £14,640 against its estimate of £3,000-5,000.

The star lot in the 440 lot sale was the very last one. The beautiful two strand natural pearl necklace from the Cornwallis estate accompanied by the all important Anchor Cert or pearl identification report, ensured the staggering price of £152,500. The natural pearls (meaning they had been dived for), were well matched and the three part diamond clasp of the 1920s was not signed but could well have been made by Boucheron or Cartier. It had been probated a while ago and had an estimate of £7,000-10,000 and was bought by a Middle Eastern natural pearl collector who had flown in especially.

Since Dreweatts has opened branches in London and Rome, it now means that as sales are previewed in Mayfair as well as Italy which widens the scope for both vendors and buyers. Italians, amongst many other nationalities, are energetic internet bidders and are especially keen on antique English jewellery. It is also interesting to note that in spite of the great flurry of internet and telephone bidding, the traditional method of viewing and then leaving a bid, is also returning.

To view the sale catalogue online, please click here

For further press information please contact Vanessa Clewes Salmon: press@dnfa.com

For further information on the sale, please call Dreweatts’ Donnington Priory Salerooms on 01635 553553 or email donnington@dnfa.com

Dreweatts - 10 June 2011